Candidates night in Byram

| 15 Feb 2012 | 09:56

    BYRAM — The League of Women Voters moderated a Byram Candidates Night on Monday, Oct. 24, at the Byram Fire House on Route 206. Byram resident Jeanne Moran initiated and coordinated the event in the hopes of giving residents a chance to better know those running for township council in November’s election. All five candidates that will be on the ballot were at the event: Carlos Luaces, Scott Olson, Harvey Roseff, Eskil “Skip” Danielson and Nisha Kash. Each candidate got to present a two minute opening statement. Toni Zimmer from the League of Women Voters of New Jersey asked approximately 16 questions and allowed for a one minute answer from each candidate. The candidates were then allowed a 30-second rebuttal if they wanted to respond to another candidate's statement. Questions came from the public who wrote them on index cards which were collected by the league. Representatives from the league then chose the questions that would be asked. Each candidate was allowed a two minute closing statement. During opening statements, Danielson talked about taxes, the economy, marketing the town to people outside of Byram, improvements to Rt. 206 and infrastructure. Kash talked about her experience working with a county congressman, her decision to raise her daughter in the township and a shared her love of Byram, the open space and the schools. Luaces described his work experience with an emphasis on infrastructure development and urban areas but stated that he is not a single issue candidate. Roseff talked about his education and referred to his mechanical engineering degree, spoke of his life amongst nature in Byram as well as development and managing taxes. Olson took the opportunity to introduce himself and his work with the town as a councilman for the past four-and-a-half years years, sitting on the planning board, open space committee, architectural review committee and many other volunteer positions within Byram. Many of the questions posed by the public were about township taxes, economic development, employee benefits, shared services and the current property reassessment in Byram. The candidates were mostly in agreement on those issues. All agreed on looking into shared services, bringing in new businesses, and a close scrutiny of contracts during negotiations. They also all shared frustration with rising taxes since approximately 74 percent of any property tax bill is for the schools and county taxes, which the council has no control over or input into. The township only controls approximately 26 percent of a property owner’s tax bill, which is the municipal government portion. All candidates took the time to explain that there is a need to look outside Byram’s municipal budget when it comes to keeping property taxes down. The question that received the most laughs and eased the mood of the room was when Zimmer asked the candidates if they were going to a Halloween party as a superhero, which hero would they be and why. Eskil “Skip” Danielson reflected on Freddy the Fireman, but ultimately chose his dad, whose commitment to community service inspired not only him but also many generations that followed. Nisha Kash decided on a favorite superhero of her daughters, Super Why, because learning, asking questions and gaining knowledge is so important, she said. Carlos Luaces seemed to know his answer right away: the Green Lantern because he fights fear and adversity. Scott Olson, who had time to ponder the question, admitted that his immediate reaction was to speak about his father, but since a dad was already referred to, he decided to go to the party dressed as an every day person because he admitted that there are so many people in Byram that he knows that do extraordinary and super things that benefit people and the community. Harvey Roseff chose Superman with his reason being because of the great contributions to society he made. Closing statements were gracious with many thanks given to the League of Women Voters and the Byram Township Volunteer Fire Department. Olson asked voters to “look back at what I have done for Bryam, how hard I have worked and to look at my heart as well as the heart of the people who sit up here with me.” Danielson reflected on the years of service he has already provided and said “I am ready to give more.” Kash asked for votes because “she truly loved working with Congressman Garrett and wants to work for the best interests of the Byram voters.” Roseff described himself as an “independent sort” and said that “the demographics of society have changed. We now have to forget about the past and find new ways of doing things.” Luaces said “I want to help make this town into what it can be and I have the energy to do that.” Zimmer reminded everyone that election day this year is the second Tuesday in November, not the first, and falls on Nov. 8.